Proper motivation

1 Timothy 1:5  The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

In our lives as Christians, we can often get caught up in thinking that we’re just supposed to do certain things, obey the rules, and work for God.  The problem is that sometimes our motives are all wrong.  We do things because we’ll be noticed or we do them because we want God to think more highly of us.  The Lord, whether we realize it or not, cares very much about our motives.  He cares that we do things out of love, a pure heart, and sincere faith.

We shouldn’t do things just because we’re going through the motions of what we think we’re supposed to do and we should never do good things out of selfish motives.  A good deed done for personal gain is worth nothing.  God’s work in us, our sanctification, should lead to fruits that bear witness to Him.  Selfish good deeds do no such thing.

Follow the lead of Matthew 5:16 and let your light shine so that others will glorify God because of it.

Three in One – Perfect Community

The Trinity

Ephesians 4:4-7  There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

So how does believing in the Trinity affect your life?  How do you live differently because of the triune God?  What part of believing that God is made of one substance but three persons makes this doctrine “Christian” and what does it mean for the church?

While many religions around the world focus on works and performance, Christianity stands out.  We, as Christ followers, don’t give all of our focus to our performance, but the core of our belief is relationship.  God is about relationships.  In fact, the very first model of a perfect community is given in the Trinity.  In the Bible we have Father, Son and Holy Spirit as an example for us of relationships.

There is no sin in God so He is not tainted by its effects.  Among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are truth, love, humility, peace, service, honor, and unity.  There is no grumbling or complaining, no backstabbing, no gossip.  Though all three persons of the Trinity are equally God, there are different roles for each.  But we never see the Son disgruntled about carrying out the will of the Father, we never see the Holy Spirit resent bringing glory to the Son.  Because within each person of the Trinity there is the others (all one God, all one essence), they work together in perfect harmony.

We can’t be perfect, so we can’t live in the unity and harmony of God, but we have an example set before us to mimic to the best of our ability.  Not to gain perfection, but to carry on good relationships, both with other people and with God.  God is about community, about selfless relationships and love.

That you may obtain the glory of our Lord

2 Thessalonians 2:14  To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He who began a good work in us will see it through to its completion.  He’s called us not only to salvation but to sanctification.  In shaping us and forming us to be more like Christ, God is bringing glory unto Himself.

When we are sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit we bring glory to Jesus.  All glory unto Jesus is also unto the Father (John 10:30).  When we are growing into the image of Christ, we desire more and more to do the will of God the Father.

Our part in this, as Paul tells the believers at Thessalonica, is to stand firm.  We must hold on to the Gospel which we have been taught because the process of sanctification can be painful. When we face various trials, we need to focus on what God has done and what He will do.  It’s not only for our own good that He calls us to be made into the image of Christ, it’s also for His glory.

———-  What have you been through that’s been painful but you realize has been for your own benefit or God’s own glory?

Three in One – The Necessity of the Trinity

The Trinity

Romans 3:22-24  the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,

Some may ask, “Why is the Trinity so important to Christian belief?”.  Why, for instance, can’t I just believe in God and leave it at that?  Why do I need to know that God is Three in One?  This is a valid question and it really has more than one answer.

Without the Trinity, we lose the Gospel.  Man is sinful and God’s wrath (The Father’s) is upon us.  Jesus, the Son, comes to earth to take the sins of man upon Himself and imputes His righteousness on to those who believe on Him.  This brings reconciliation with the Father.  Upon His departure back to the Father’s side, the Holy Spirit is given to the regenerate Christian to empower him or her to live out God’s will.  If we lose any part of this plan, we lose all of it.  Each person of the Trinity plays His role in the redemption of man.  No Trinity, no salvation and no right relationship with God.

Without the Trinity, the Bible makes little sense.  Some Christians believe in something called Modalism, where God is one, but acts in different modes at different times.  The Father created the world.  Jesus was the manifestation of God as a man on earth.  The Holy Spirit is active today in the lives of Christians.  In Modalism, God does not exist as three persons simultaneously.  But then, why did Jesus come to pay the price of man’s sins to satisfy the wrath of God?  How then did God the Father speak from heaven as Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit descend on Him like a dove?  It’s a stretch to makes sense of such things.

The reasoning goes on, but what every Christian needs to understand about the Trinity is that God is real right now in your life and is capable of acting in any capacity necessary.  God our Father, Jesus our Mediator, and Holy Spirit our Helper. They are Three and they are One.

The Judge is on our side

Romans 8:33-34 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

We stand accused.  As brothers and sisters of Christ we’re enemies with Satan and he seeks to condemn us for our sin.  He’d love to bring up every wrong thing we’ve ever done, every lie we’ve ever told, every mistake we’ve made.  Misery loves company and the devil would love to have some company.  His problem in this though is that Christians have been covered in the blood of Christ.  We’re justified, no longer condemned (Romans 8:1).

No matter how badly we’ve sinned, Christ covered it all and we’re immune to Satan’s accusations.  But oh how he still tries.  Until the final day he’ll hunt around like a lion, trying to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).  But in the end, God wins.  And if God wins, we win.  If He who called us and justified us prevails, so shall we prevail.  How can we be condemned when the judge Himself is on our side?  When our advocate, our intercessor, is the One who bled that we might live?

No accusation brought against us sticks because we’re children of God.

———-  How would you act differently when you felt condemned if you kept in mind that Christ is interceding for you?

Three in One – Calling

 

The Trinity

Matthew 3:16-17  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;  and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

What we see at the baptism of Jesus is the Father confirming the ministry He was sent for and the Holy Spirit empowering Him by coming upon Him.  Jesus, being God himself, is at all times filled with the Holy Spirit, but the picture we get here as believers is that when God calls us to something, He empowers us to do it.  We have the blessing of the Father, the authority given by the Son (Matthew 28:18), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which enables us to carry out God’s mission.

All three persons of the Trinity are at work as we carry on with what God has called us to do and each plays a part in their own respective roles along the way.  As finite humans who are quite incapable of fully understanding how God works, we may never know exactly how God is working in a given situation, but we can know that He is working and that He is simultaneously acting in the distinct persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  These three are one and they equip us to do what we’re called to do.

Justified

Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Justification belongs to those that believe on Christ Jesus for salvation.  If you’re saved, you were first called, but the thing is, not all who are called receive justification.  How is this verse reconciled in light of the fact that not everyone who receives God’s invitation to salvation responds to it?  The calling here can’t refer to the invitation, but must refer to an effective call of the Holy Spirit on the life of the one who would believe and become justified.  Those He chose from the beginning are those who received this call.  If you’re a Christ-follower, that’s you.

You’ve been chosen with a purpose and with that comes justification.  In other words, you’ve been declared “not guilty” because Jesus took on your sin when He died on the cross.  Your sin is forgiven.  With that comes a promise.

You’ll be glorified on the last day.  This is to say that you’ll receive a new body, a resurrection body.  It’ll be perfect, free from all the flaws our current bodies entail.  When God called you, He equipped you for faith and He justified you when you followed Christ.  This is not without reward.  When you get to see Jesus, you’ll be justified, sanctified, and glorified.

Three in One – prayer

The Trinity

1 Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

Ephesians 6:18a  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

One aspect of Christian belief that does not often make its way into devotions or teaching on how to apply biblical truth to daily living is the Triune nature of God.  We neglect to focus on the nature of God as three persons in one as part of our view of God in daily life.  But it’s essential that we remember who God is as we seek to know Him more, as we petition Him, as we carry out His will.

As we pray, we are in fact engaging with all three distinct persons of the Trinity.  We speak to the Father, asking Him for our needs to be met, giving Him praise, interceding for the needs of others, and giving Him thanks.  We do this through the Son, who is our mediator.  Were it not for the role of Jesus Christ standing in the gap between man and God, we would have no access to the throne and our prayers would go unanswered.  Since God himself is spirit, we must act in the Holy Spirit to communicate with Him.  All three persons of the Triune God are present and active as we pray.

We can’t neglect any part of God’s nature as we seek Him.  If we forget that He is good, we will have an unnatural fear of Him.  If we forget that He is all-powerful, we will tend to pray without expecting results.  If we forget that He is all-knowing, we may fear that we won’t quite say the right thing and that God will answer our prayers incorrectly because we didn’t get our message across right.  The fact is that God is all of these things and He is present in our lives as our Father, as Jesus the Son, and as the Holy Spirit.

Conformed to His image

Romans 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Romans 8:28 has got to be one of the most quoted and memorized of all Scripture.  It’s important to know that God purposes all things to work together for good.  But when you pay close attention to the latter half of the verse, you see the need to read on.

Paul is stating that there are some who are called by God to fulfill His purpose.  In context we learn that those who are called are also to be conformed to the image of Christ (see also 2 Thessalonians 2:14) in order to bring about that purpose.  The work of the Holy Spirit within us brings about our sanctification which numbers us among the brothers/sisters of Christ.

So what’s our part in this?  What application do we make out of this truth?  Trust, for one thing.  Do you trust that in all things, in all areas of your life that God is active and present, working things towards His purpose?  Do you trust that He is conforming you to the image of His Son through the events and circumstances of your life?  We’ve got to trust that, even when things aren’t going as we planned, our Creator chose us from before creation (Ephesians 1:4) to be part of something bigger than ourselves.  His plan calls for the lives of HIs people to be transformed into the image of Christ and He brings that about one step at a time (2 Corinthians 3:18).